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CHANGE FATIGUE OR COMMUNICATIONS OPPORTUNITY?

by | Oct 1, 2019

Help employees embrace the twists and turns of business

It’s rare to find any company today that isn’t undergoing constant change. Change is necessary — to respond to changing market conditions, take advantage of new technology or to embrace innovation.

Employees, however, often see change management initiatives as signs of trouble, or at the very least, sources of job stress. Internal communications teams worry about employees being overwhelmed by change fatigue.

But could change fatigue really be just the stress of employees feeling that things are somehow out of control? In employee focus groups and interviews with a wide range of companies and industries, we often hear employees talk about change initiatives as if they’re some fleeting whim of leadership that will shift again entirely before long.

This signals a missed opportunity to engage employees in the change

Internal communications can help by linking the change back to the company vision or business strategies. For instance, let’s say the vision is about enabling clients to run their businesses more efficiently, and the change involves moving the value proposition from a software product to consultative service. Talk about how that enables the company to give clients more customized solutions that will be specific to their unique business challenges. There’s a business reason for the change that will benefit clients and help grow the company.

Then engage employees in their roles in that shift. From writing code to writing marketing materials, employees will play a part in making the change happen. Help them see the excitement of that, as well as the career opportunities the change could afford.

Sometimes change fatigue is spurred by an initiative that negatively impacts people, such as closing a plant or other facility. Of course that’s not a change to communicate as something exciting; it’s a somber occasion when the company has to part ways with a group of employees.

But the news can include messaging that places that change in context. You can, and should, communicate the business reasons for this change, how departing employees are being treated in ways that reflect the values of the company, and how the decision is rooted in a sense of responsibility for the future of employees who remain. Engage employees in showing support for their colleagues impacted by the change, as well as in their roles moving the company forward.

Assuming your company leadership isn’t making change willy nilly with no business rational, you can do a lot to fight change fatigue with communication. Give employees the information they need to see the reason for the change, how it supports the overall goals of the company, and how they can help align with the positive improvements the change is meant to achieve. For more on how to communicate change successfully, try this Tribe Best Practices one pager.

Interested in communicating change in a way that helps ease employee anxiety? Tribe can help.

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